Monthly Archives: November 2009

Home Is Where the Heart Is


It has been a few months since I’ve been home to Houston to visit my parents.  I realize as I grow older, the more I begin to appreciate all the things my parents have done for me.  I often feel foolish for the way I acted during my adolescence but being good parents, they handled me with great patience and love.  Every time I leave home, I am always sad to go — granted I only live 4 hours away I miss being able to see my parents whenever I want to.

I had a wonderful time seeing my mom and dad, granted I did not have a traditional Thanksgiving, I had a wonderful one with both of my parents.  In the early afternoon, my father and sister and I along with some family friends went to eat at Kim Son — where they featured a hot pot and Vietnamese/Chinese themed buffet.  I am not a big fan of buffets, only because I tend to always over eat at them.  And this time was no different…

Where to begin?  There were so many buffet lines that I felt a little overwhelemd — a few for Hot Pot, Sushi, Hot Line, Cold Line, and Desserts.  They also had a side station where they served roast duck and soup noodles — that was probably my favorite station.  The Hot Pot selection was fair, they really didn’t have much of a meat selection — I was hoping for a glorious spread of chicken, beef, pork and lamb but all I found was pork.  My father actually asked them “Where is the lamb?”, they claimed it was frozen and after about 35 minutes they brought it out.  After getting an entire plate of lamb for the table, it turns out my dad doesn’t even like to eat it but wanted to get his money’s worth.  🙂 Asians always love a good deal.  The seafood spread was pretty extensive: shrimp, squid, various types of fish balls, tilapia, fresh crab, etc.

I always enjoy having hot pot during the winter, I have to say though that I think I enjoy having hot pot in the comfort of my own home than in a buffet styled restaurant.  The broth they provided was tasteless, probably because it was just tap water and to me that is one of the most important elements of a good hot pot meal.  I really enjoyed trying all the different Vietnamese dishes they had there — fried rice cakes, spicy beef noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue), Vietnamese Crepe (Bahn Xeo) were some of my absolute favorites!  They also had an impressive spread of some traditional Chinese cuisine but I figured nothing could beat my mother’s cooking so I ate mainly the Vietnamese food 🙂

They also featured “duck buns” which are pieces of roasted duck with green scallion and hoisin sauce nestled between a steamed sweet bun.  I ate at least three before moving onto the whole fried fish and the sauteed baby clams in black bean sauce.  The clams were so tender and very fresh too, the sauce could’ve used a little more punch but being at a buffet I guess beggars cant be choosers! You could also order plates of roast duck as well as udon noodles, vietnamese soup noodles, etc.

The dessert spread was really good — a lot of traditional Vietnamese desserts like flan, sweet glutinous rice with beans, steamed yam cake, bahn rau cau and other various cakes and confections made from sweet beans and glutinous rice.  In many instances it was like Thanksgiving, a wide variety of comfort foods with friends and family and eating until you couldnt move.  For $14.95/person for lunch it was a pretty good deal, there was definitely enough variety that would suit everyone’s tastes and there were many dishes that I thought were really exceptional.  Be careful, all the popular items like the Duck Buns and Crepes dissappear the minute the kitchen brings them out.   Since I am an intense eater, I waited patiently and then swooped in like an eagle the minute I saw the workers coming — what can I say?  I know what I want :).

I also thought it was cool how they had an interactive cooking station — here they are making Banh Bot Chien, a fried rice flour cake.  It’s delicious, the rice flour cake is nice and crispy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.  The batter is egg based and brings out the sweetness of the rice cakes and provides an interesting contrast in textures.   You can dip it in a sweet tangy soy sauce or eat it plain… *siigh* just writing about it makes me hungry for one.

For dinner, my mother took me out to eat lobster.  It was at this Chinese restaurant that I do not know the name of (I need to get it from my mom) but I was definitely skeptical.   I have never been a big fan of lobster, especially for the price.  To me, I’ve always felt like lobster just tasted like a bigger version of shrimp. After going here, I realize I felt this way because I’ve never had good lobster.

This lobster dish was amazing.  It was the only thing my mother and I ordered, Two Lobsters in a Ginger and Scallion Sauce.  I think this is a popular Cantonese dish and this restaurant cooked it perfectly.

The sauce was sensational — rich but not oily, the flavors were so delicate with the ginger and scallion infused into the tender morsels of lobster.  They also cut it in easy to eat pieces, so you are not furiously digging for the meat.  The sweetness of the lobster was incredible, definitely not comparable to shrimp like I thought before.

I loved the light batter that covered the lobster shells, soaking in the delicious sauce while capturing the essence of the sea.  It was honestly one of the best lobster dishes I’ve ever had.  My mother and I finished the entire dish to ourselves, without a single shred of lobster to spare.

Being home has really brought me back to my roots, I realize since launching this site I have not really showcased my original background in food: Chinese Cuisine.  I realized how much I miss the flavors and the wide variety of ingredients used that I immediately became inspired to share my love for Chinese food with my readers.  I’ve mostly shyed away from making Chinese food because the resources for Asian products are quite scarce around Dallas and the selection is not always great.  However, I’ve found a market that I think will be able to provide great ingredients so I am excited to share some Chinese dishes with you so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving Feast Part 2


Aaaah part 2…I did not take very good pictures of the sides because I think we were all so anxious to eat — sounds familiar?  I tend to do that a lot 🙂 I also forgot to take pictures of the main dish, the Herb Roasted Turkey!!! But thankfully I just did it the same way as when I make herb roasted chicken and it turned out fantastic —  very moist and tender, and there were no leftovers at the end!

Some Tips on Making Turkey:

  • Defrost defrost defrost … Because a turkey is much larger than a chicken you will need to defrost your turkey a couple days beforehand.  I defrosted mine by Friday morning so I place it in the brine.
  • Ever had dry Thanksgiving turkey, where even all the gravy in the world couldn’t make it moist?  Well brining a turkey will prevent that from happening.  You can refer back on how to make a brine if you do not know how.  Be creative and make your own brine with your choice of herbs and spices.  Brine the turkey for at least 24 hours for best results.
  • Plan accordingly.  It takes about 15 minutes per pound to cook the turkey at 350F.  So if you are planning to serve guests at 5pm with a 20 lb turkey it would take up to 5 hours so it’d be best to place it in the oven a little before or at 12.
  • Once the turkey is done, you need to let it sit for 15-20 minutes before carving to allow the juices in the bird to set.  Or you will lose all the precious delicious juices onto the plate :(!

Does anyone have any of their own Turkey tips? Please let me know if you do! Okay let’s sample some Sides shall we?

Ingredients for Succotash with Fresh Corn and Flageolet Beans: (serves 12)

  • 4 cups of fresh corn
  • 3 cups flageolet beans, cooked
  • 1 cup butternut squash, diced and blanched
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Tips on chopping onions:

  • Don’t like crying while you’re chopping? Soak your onions in water before cutting, I hear chewing gum helps too but I have never tried it myself.
  • Fastest way to peel an onion is to trim off both sides and peel off the dry skin.
  • Cut the onion in half and lay it on the board and make crosswise incisions as shown above. Then simply chop and you will have some lovely diced onion pieces!
  • If your onion pieces are a little too big, simply run your knife over them and give it a few chops.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, melt some butter until bubbling at medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the fresh corn and flageolet beans along with the chicken stock and allow to simmer for 45 minutes on medium heat or until the beans are soft. Once the mixture is cooked, add in the butternut squash and cream.  Taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.  Cover and reheat when ready to use.

I made the succotash the night beforehand, the day of the party I simply reheated and added the butternut squash and cream.  I chose to add the butternut squash later on so it could keep its bright orange color.

For those of you who have never made dried beans it is really simple.  Take your dried beans and place them in a large bowl of water, make sure your beans are completely covered by at least 2 inches of water.  The dried beans will soak up the liquid and expand the next day, so plan accordingly! I cooked the beans for 30 minutes on medium high heat until they were almost softened.  Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking and emtpy the beans in a clean bowl.  Immerse beans in water, cover and store in fridge until ready to use.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients for Mustard Greens and Smoked Ham:(serves 12)

  • 3 bunches of Mustard Greens, chopped
  • 1 cup smoked ham, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the butter at medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add the ham and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the mustard greens in batches, they will wilt down quickly from the heat.  Cook until all greens have wilted and add the cream and salt and pepper to taste.

I made the greens the night beforehand without the cream and allowed them to soak up the delicious smoked ham juices.  I simply reheated with cream the day of the party and it was absolutely delicious.  I think this was one of my favorite sides!

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 30 minutes

 

Ingredients for Honey Roasted Carrots with Spiced Pecans: (serves 12)

  • 1- 5lb bag peeled baby carrots
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

You can make the pecans up to a week beforehand and store them in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Boil water in a small saucepan.  Once ready, dump in the pecans and quickly blanch them, about 2 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  Line a large cookie sheet with foil and dump the pecans on there.  Mix pecans with the powdered sugar, pepper and cinnamon, making sure all nuts are evenly covered.   Bake for 15 minutes, or until the sugar is crispy.  Set aside and cool.  Store in glass container or plastic bag until ready to use.

Line a large roasting pan with foil.  Place the baby carrots and mix well with butter and honey.  Place about 1 cup of water and cover the pan with foil.  Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake on broil for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Reheat in oven for 10 minutes when ready to serve.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour

Ingredients for Cranberry Chestnut Stuffing:(serves 12)

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups chesnuts, shelled and cooked
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 10 cups of dried bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat 4 tablespoons butter at medium heat.  When foamy, add in the onion, celery and chesnuts, cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the cranberries and chicken stock and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.  In a large roasting pan, line with foil and place the dried bread crumbs ontop.  Pour the vegetable stock mixture all over the bread, making sure it is all evenly distributed.   Add the eggs and half of the parsley mixture and toss well.  Dot the stuffing with the remaining butter and cover the pan with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake on broil uncovered for an additional 7 minutes or until stuffing is golden brown on the surface.  Add the remaining parsley, toss and serve.

I made the stuffing the night before as well, except just the vegetable stock mixture.  The day of the party, I simply just combined it with the breadcrumbs and baked it in the oven!

Prep Time: 30 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour

And THIS was my fruit bowl that I made and filled it with a nice Honey Mint fruit salad! It actually did not melt as fast as I thought it would — after placing the fruit in the bowl, I placed it back in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  This helped cool down the fruit salad so the bowl would last longer.  After about a little over an hour, the bottom of the bowl had pretty much melted — sad panda 😦 but it sure was pretty while it lasted!

I had a blast planning out this dinner party, I was scared because it was the biggest one I’ve had yet.  It was really nice having all my friends and family over where we enjoyed good food, good drinks and of course great conversation.  I will close out the post with the prep list that I had planned out to help anyone who is crazy enough to ever want to throw a Thanksgiving feast for 12 or more 🙂 Granted it kept me busy for a couple days, the hard work was well worth it.  Everyone ate themselves into oblivion and my friend from Bosnia actually fell into a food coma on my couch (that made me very happy ^_^).


Prep List:

  • Wednesday: Grocery Shopping
  • Thursday:
  1. Defrost turkey.
  2. Make cheesecake and freeze in freezer.
  3. Boil eggs and store in fridge.
  4. Make sweet potatoe filling for phyllo cups and store in fridge.
  5. Bake phyllo cups and store in bags in cool dry area.
  6. Toast pine nuts and make spiced pecans and store in fridge or in cool dry area.
  • Friday
  1. Brine the turkey.
  2. Roast squash for magic salad.
  3. Make egg mixture and store in fridge.
  4. Make mustard greens and store in fridge.
  5. Make succotash and store in fridge.
  6. Make bruschetta mixture and store in fridge.
  7. Make stuffing mixture and store in fridge.
  • Saturday (day of the party)
  1. Assemble phyllo cups, bruschetta, magic salad, and deviled eggs.
  2. Bake cookies
  3. Bake turkey
  4. Bake stuffing
  5. Bake carrots
  6. Cut fruit salad and place in fridge
  7. Make mashed potatoes
  8. Reheat all sides

And there you have it! Throwing a big dinner party is simple if you plan ahead and make an easy yet tasty menu.  If I can do it, anyone can ^_^.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope all of you enjoy your time with family and friends, see you guys when I get back!

Thanksgiving Feast


The Thanksgiving Feast was a great success — thank you to all my guests for coming! I always enjoy holding a Thanksgiving get together with friends and family every year, it always brings me happiness to cook for the people I love :).  Another big reason is because being Chinese-American, my very Traditional Chinese parents do not celebrate Thanksgiving!   I would always remember getting out of school for Thanksgiving break  yet never going anywhere while all my other friends went out of town.  The day of Thanksgiving I’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade with the gigantic Turkey float and that was the only turkey I usually had for the day.  One year my mom made a turkey — I remembered it being in a bag and we had two weeks worth of leftovers since only the three of us ate it.

But then one year during high school, I had a close friend invite me over to have Thanksgiving with her family.  It changed my life — I finally understood why this American holiday was so coveted by so many: there was so much AMAZING FOOD.  I mean there were four different kinds of pie alone, not to mention the countless sides surrounding the gigantic turkey and the delightful appetizers before — it was beautiful.  It wasn’t until then that I finally understood the term “comfort-food“. One of the few times of the year when family gets together and creates one gigantic meal filled with love and memories, creating food that truly brings you comfort to your heart and soul when you eat it.  The anticipation of waiting to sit down and finally digging into the collection of wonderous glorious Thanksgiving food is always my favorite part of the meal — I always plan out my method of attack (potatoes and gravy in the middle, protein on one side, vegetables and misc on the other– potatoes and gravy go with everything) and always make sure to save room for dessert.

I will be making this a two part post since I made quite a long menu — I tend to go overboard at times -_-.  I will be featuring appetizers and cookies  today and the sides tomorrow.   In planning this party, a lot of these items were able to be planned and prepped beforehand so you are not rushing around the day of.  I will show my prep list later on.   Here is the menu that I’ve planned:

Appetizers

  • Rosemary Basil Bruschetta
  • Sweet Potato Phyllo Cups with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Magic Salad
  • Devil Eggs Two Ways – Caviar and Dill + Garlic and Peppercorn

Desserts

  • Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake
  • Fruit Salad with Ginger and Mint
  • Three Kinds of Cookies – Double Chocolate with Peanut Butter Chips, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Almond White Chocolate

Let’s start with the Appetizers!

Ingredients for Rosemary Basil Bruschetta: (serves 12)

  • 6 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chiffonade (I used Thai Basil)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl mix the vinegar, oil and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.  Combine the remaining ingredients and toss well.  Place in glass container, cover and allow mixture to marinate for 1-2 days. You can make this up to two days ahead of time.

The day of the party, buy some fresh baguettes and slice them at a diagonal.  Brush with olive oil and bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.  Set aside and cool.  Serve with tomato mixture and garnish with chopped basil.

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Total Cooking Time:30 min

When picking appetizers for your party, remember to pick items that can be pre-made and assembled quickly the day of the party.  These phyllo cups are a great example.  You can make the phyllo cups up to 5 days beforehand — I did it 3 days before and after baking I kept them in an airtight container until the day of the party.  I bought the pumpkin seeds pre toasted, but if needed you can also toast nuts 4-5 days beforehand.  I baked the bacon and made the sweet potato puree the night before — you can make the bacon bits up to 3-4 days before hand keeping them refrigerated in an airtight container.

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Phyllo Cups with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: (serves 12)

  • 12 – phyllo sheets, thawed
  • olive oil to brush
  • 3 sweet potatoes, chopped 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 slices Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, garnish

For those of you who have never used phyllo, it must be thawed before using.  Do not try to unroll it while it’s frozen or the dough will crack — (I have been impatient and tried this before).

Preheat oven to 350F.  Take any sized muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Once the phyllo dough is thawed, be sure to keep the dough moist with a damp kitchen towel — it dries out very easy.  Brush phyllo with oil or butter and using a pizza cutter cut the dough into equal squares similar to the size of the individual muffin tins.  Place two seets of phyllo in each tin and lightly press down.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

For the puree, place the diced sweet potatoes in a large pot of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium, cook until soft, about 15 minutes.  Drain and shock with cold water, this will help retain the bright orange color of the potatoes.  Place the potatoes in a food processor and blend in the honey milk and cinnamon.  If the mixture is too thick simply add more milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Place mixture in glass airtight container and refrigerate.  This can be made up to two days ahead.

Prep Time: 10 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour

The day of the party all you’d have to do is spoon the sweet potato mixture into the phyllo cups and bake at 350F for 5 minutes to reheat.  Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, some bacon bits, and sliced scallions and voila you are done!

I love deviled eggs, the eggs can be boiled and peeled 2 days before hand and the mixture can be made and piped the day of.

Ingredients for Garlic and Peppercorn:

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1 large garlic clove crushed
  • 3 tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp green peppercorns crushed, for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Caviar and Dill Eggs:

  • 6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp caviar plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp dill, chopped plus more for garnish
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the eggs, you can pick to cut them horizontally or vertically, whichever you prefer.  I chose to cut mine horizontally — you would have to slightly cut the base of the eggs so they are able to stand up.  Separate the whites and yolks in large bowls, be careful not to rip the whites.  Carefully place the whites in a cold water bath.  Meanwhile blend the yolks with the ingredients and taste with salt and pepper.

Quick Tips on How to Properly Boil an Egg:

  • Always cover the eggs with COLD water before cooking.
  • Bring the water to a boil and quickly remove from heat.  Allow the eggs to sit for 20 minutes before peeling under cold running water.
  • Eggs that are very fresh tend to be harder to peel, use older eggs if possible.
  • Placing the eggs in a ice water bath may also help with hard to peel eggs.
  • Store peeled hard boiled eggs in a large bowl of cold water, can keep for up to a week.  It is preferable to peel them when you want to use them.

When ready to serve, remove the egg whites and drain on paper towels.  Carefully assemble them on a plate and pipe the two different types of egg fillings.  Garnish and serve cold.  I cut the eggs the night before and made the mixture with the yolks the day of.  Then all I had to worry about was just mixing the yolks and piping my eggs.

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Total Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Now, onto Desserts!

Cheesecake are one of my favorite desserts to make because honestly, who doesn’t love cheesecake?  It can also be made several days in advance and kept covered in a freezer, I made mine 3 days in advance.  This cheesecake is nice and creamy with hints of cinnamon and pumpkin.  I was going to make a maple cream to go with it but ran out of time and went with what I thought were butterscotch but turned out to be peanut butter chips, it actually worked out really well!

Ingredients for Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecake: (Serves 12)

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cakes

  • 6 graham crackers or 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Grease the bottoms and sides of the 9-inch springform pan.  Cover the outside of the pan with aluminum foil, making sure to seal the bottom so water does not leak through when you place the cake in a waterbath.  Prepare a roasting pan with 4 inches of water that is deep and large enough to hold the cake pan.  If you are using whole graham crackers, place them in a large ziplock bag and with a rolling pin (I used a wine bottle) crush the crackers until they form fine, uniform crumbs.  Pour crumbs in a bowl and measure out 1 cup.  Add the melted butter and mix evenly with crumbs.  Pour the mixture into the pan and press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom of the pan using your fingers.  Bake the crust until it turns slightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.  This process allows the crust to dry out so it does not abosrb too much liquid from the filling, leaving you a crunchy crust opposed to a soggy one.

Beat the eggs thoroughly until yolks and whites are well blended.  It is important they are at room temperature so the eggs do not clump with the cream cheese which results in white specks in the cheesecake.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla.  Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat on low speed until mixture is well blended, about 1 minute.  Make sure that every bit of the mixture is well beaten, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour and blend well at a low speed and then add half of the eggs until well incorporated then add remanining half and repeat.  Add the cinnamon, ginger and dark rum and mix just until incoporated.  Add the sour cream and pumpkin until the filling is an even golden orange color.  Set aside.

Pour the filling onto the prebaked crust, using a spatula to scrape all of the mixture from the bowl.  Put the filled springform pan in the roasting pan and slide the roasting pan onto the oven rack.  Slowly fill the roasting pan with water until it reaches about 2 inches up the sides of the springfoam pan.  This process is known as a water bath, it prevents the cheesecake from cracking and gives an even, delicate and moist texture to the cheesecake. 

Bake undisturbed for 551 hour and 20 minutes.  If the cake looks like it is firm, give the pan a gentle shake to see if the batter moves.  Be careful to not splash any water onto the cake! If the top is wobbly, put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, repeat process until cheesecake is done.  Remove the cheesecake together with the water bath onto a wire rack.  Allow the cheesecake to cool for an hour then lift the springfoam pan from the water.  Remove the foil and allow the cake to cool for an hour longer.  Seal tightly with plastic wrap and store in the freezer.

The day of the party, take the cheesecake out of the freezer and allow it to defrost in fridge.  When ready to serve, run a knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, keeping the knife tightly pressed against the side of the pan.  Release the pan sides and carefully lift off.  Using a thin knife, loosen the crust from the pan bottom and slide onto a serving plate.  For the best results, allow the cheesecake to sit at room temperature a couple hours before serving so the cheesecake can “ripen”.  You can make cheesecake up to a month ahead of time, once defrosted it can last in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Prep Time: 1 hour   Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Now On To Desserts!

Preheat oven to 350F.

Ingredients for Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla on medium speed using handheld mixer.  Beat in eggs until light and fluffy.  Mix in flour, baking powder and salt on low speed until well incorporated.  Stir in the oats and chocolate chips and form dough into 2 inch balls.  and place on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-14 minutes until edges turn a slight golden brown and center is soft.  Set aside and cool on wire rack.

Ingredients for Double Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granualted sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, mix the flour cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Incorporate well and slowly blend into butter and sugar mixture.  Once dry and wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, fold in the peanut butter chips.  Roll cookie dough into 2-inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet, leaving about 2″ of space in between each.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Ingredients for Cranberry Almond White Chocolate Chip Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup almonds, slivered

In a large bowl cream together sugars and butter until mixed well.  Add in egg and beat until light and fluffy.  In another large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt and slowly incorporate into the wet mixture.  Fold in the oats and cranberries until well incorporated.  Roll dough into 2″ balls and place on cookie sheet 2″ apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Set aside and cool on wire rack.   Makes about 3 dozen.

Cookies are always great to make for parties because cookie dough can be stored in the freezer for a long period of time.  The day of the party or even the night before, all you have to do is cut the dough and bake! You can make different cookie doughs and store them so you will have a variety the day of the party.

Citrus Floral Ice Bowl


So the chaos has begun, with the party being only two days away I am starting to freak out a little bit.  I still haven’t picked up the turkey and I have an endless list of prep work to do!  However, I think everything will fall into place when the time comes…hopefully.  Good news is that I will have a bunch of recipes to post, chronicling my adventures of creating this Thanksgiving feast just in time for Thanksgiving next Thursday.

So this recipe isn’t exactly edible — I mean I guess you can eat it if you were really hungry…but I don’t recommend it 🙂 I found this in one of my cookbooks and thought it was such a cool concept that I had to share it with you guys.  It’s a really simple way to create something that will WOW your guests and it carries this bright citrus and minty aroma.  (Boys, bear with me on this post) 🙂

Ingredients for Citrus Floral Ice Bowl:

  • 1 orange, thinly sliced 1/4″
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced 1/4″
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced 1/4″
  • handful of mint leaves
  • handful of flower petals

You can slice the citrus fruit any way you would like, you can do full slices, half slices, use your creativity!

Select two bowls, one about 2 inches smaller than the other.  Place some ice cues at the bottom of the large bowl and set the smaller bowl on top so that the rims of both bowls are level.  Tape the bowls at even intervals as pictured above, this will stabilize the bowls and prevent them from moving.  Slide the slices of fruit and flowers in between the bowls and pour cold water to fill the gap.

Freeze the bowls.  You may have to use a skewer to push the fruit or flowers down between the bowls if they float during freezing. To remove the ice bowl from the molds, remove the tape and pour a little hot water into the small bowl and stand the bottom bowl in hot water.  Carefully wiggle it back and forth until you feel the bowl “pop” out.  As soon as the bowl is released place it in the freezer.

This would be a great bowl to use for ice creams or sorbets.  I am going to use my ice bowl for my fruit salad at the end of dinner — hopefully it will not melt too quickly!  You can also use different herbs if mint is not readily available, rosemary, or thyme would also look really pretty.  The best part is that you can make these bowls far in advance and just store it in the freezer until ready to use.  Hope you guys enjoy this one, even though you can’t eat it, anything you put in this bowl will taste 10 times better solely due to the visually pleasing aesthetic effect 🙂

Thanksgiving


I will be throwing a Thanksgiving party this weekend and have planned out the menu today — stay tune for postings!

 

Also, today is the last day to vote for Foodie Fights, please vote for yours truly 🙂 All support would be much appreciated!!!